Much of the information on this page was taken from the book A Century of Golden Years: The Centennial History of McLean, Illinois by the Centennial Book Committee of the McLean Centennial Association in 1955. Members of this committee were: Elmer Dickerson, Wilbur Taylor, Ora Westerfield, Byron Canfield, Everett Southerlan, Lester Van Hoosier, Wilbur Downs, Garlen Necessary, George Mitchell, and Gearold Davis (chairman). This book, which is a treasure trove of history, photos, reminiscences, and sentiments about the first 100 years of McLean's history (1855–1955), is available at the Mt. Hope–Funks Grove Library (in-house use only) for those who are interested in delving more deeply into the village's history.
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The Founding of the Village of McLean
[Excerpted from A Century of Golden Years: The Centennial History of McLean, Illinois by the Centennial Book Committee of the McLean Centennial Association (1955), pages 7–8. Text in brackets was added by the editor when transcribing the text for this webpage. Minor grammatical and spelling errors have also been corrected from the original.]
“The land on which the village of McLean stands was originally owned by the old Mount Hope Colony. John C. Cass, the agent in 1852 when the society dissolved, transferred the land to William McCullough of Bloomington. On the first of November 1852, McCullough transferred the tract to Judge David Davis, and on the 10th of January 1855, it was transferred from Davis to Franklin Price. Prior to that time, April 21, 1853, Judge Davis had deeded the C & M Railway a right-of-way through section 35. [See plat. The original village limits are shaded in toward the bottom right of the plat (in section 35).]
“Franklin Price laid out the original town of 286 lots in the southeast quarter of section 35. The original survey was made by Peter Folsom June 30, 1855, and the plat and certificate of survey were recorded . . .
“The greater number of the first settlers of McLean were from the East. Among the very first settlers were Lyman B. Goodhue and his wife. Mr. Goodhue was the first postmaster. It is said he carried the mail in his hat and delivered it whenever and wherever he happened to meet the person to whom it was addressed. Before any regular stores were built, he also kept a few groceries and notions.
“G. L. and Caroline Wheelock and their sons Henry G. and C. W. were among the earliest settlers. They were actually in the area about 1854. G. L. was the first railway station agent and for a time lived with his family in the depot. Later he operated the McLean House, which was the first hotel in McLean.
“F. A. Wheelock built the first blacksmith shop in the village. He, however, was not a blacksmith himself, but built the shop to get business started in the village. He later sold the enterprise and building to George A. Glotfelter. Later in 1859, Glotfelter and Harrison Wood started a carriage factory. Several years later this factory was operated by Woods and Stones.
“E. G. Clark, who was a relative of the Wheelocks, settled in the area about the same time as the Wheelocks.
“In the Fall of 1855, A. H. Dillon and Mark Merriam built the first warehouse and started buying grain. Soon after, the Barber Brothers—J. S. and G. P.—erected a warehouse and entered the grain buying business. However, in 1860 they sold their grain business and opened a store on the north side of the town square. (Apparently their warehouse stood near the present  site of the Funks Grove Grain Company.)
“H. W. Wood and John Kellogg came to the village in 1856. Mr. Wood came from Massachusetts and Mr. Kellogg from Tremont. About the same year Dr. F. P. King removed from Menard County to this place and engaged in the mercantile business with Mr. Kellogg.
“William Morrell, grandfather of the present  village mayor [George Morrell], settled in the vicinity about 1856. Others were Edwin M. Oxx, John Hager, and Peter McGuire.
“Shortly after 1860, C. C. Aldrich started buying grain. For storage he rented a small warehouse of Jesse Brock. (This building must have stood in the area east of the present  Town Hall [probably the small white building seen below in 1955 photos of the Village Square, Park St., shared with Dalziel Insurance] and near the railway.) Sometime later, Mr. Aldrich engaged James P. Barber to handle his grain.”